BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The federal government has denied a request by North Dakota leaders to allow ranchers struggling with drought to hay idled grassland while it’s still of good quality.
The Bismarck Tribune reports the state Agriculture Department is looking into the reasons why the request was denied.
The federal government is allowing limited emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program land, which typically is idled under a government program that pays farmers to protect erodible land and create wildlife habitat. North Dakota ranchers all summer have been seeking federal government permission to also hay that land.
CRP typically doesn’t open until after nesting season ends, to protect wildlife populations. The season in North Dakota ends Aug. 1. Ranchers say that after that day, grass might not be of good enough quality to make it worthwhile to hay.
State officials and members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation this summer have pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture for earlier CRP haying. State Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring earlier this week made another plea. His department has received hundreds of calls from ranchers in recent weeks about the issue.